The seeds of a revolt

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It always was a bad idea to have the state of Georgia subsidize our local property tax payments, something begun under Gov. Roy Barnes. It only makes us more dependent on the state, and masks the true cost of local government.

But now that we're addicted to the scheme -- which used to be called revenue sharing -- there's going to be a taxpayer revolt if the state tries to stop it in midstream.

Facing a $1.6 billion hole in the state budget, Gov. Sonny Perdue took a number of steps to fill the hole -- including withholding $428 million in property tax relief for local governments.

The move would cost Augusta and its schools $6 million. And if taxpayers had to fork over the money, it would mean as much as $290 more in property tax for most households in Augusta proper, and $240 for many households in the old county areas.

When that started to become widely known this past week, the seeds of a revolt were sown.

State lawmakers, although they are in-between legislative sessions and in the midst of an election campaign, are well aware of the brewing tax revolt about the countryside. Local governments and tuned-in taxpayers have begun to make it clear to Atlanta that they will not take that $428 million hit -- certainly not alone.

In fact, despite the confusion in Atlanta and the lack of clear direction -- at a time when tax bills are being prepared for the mail -- the Georgia Municipal Association advised its member governments across the state to mail tax bills as usual, as if the $428 million in state subsidies were not in question.

That may be a shrewd move by local governments -- putting the ball back in the state's court. We hope the governor and legislators realize how serious this is, and how the word "revolt" is not an exaggeration.

The state must balance its budget, but it cannot cripple local governments or local property taxpayers in the process.

In the end, the state, local governments and local taxpayers may have to share the pain. But expecting Augusta taxpayers to absorb an additional, unexpected and unlegislated $290 tax bill on top of their existing tax bill is ludicrous. It won't be allowed to happen.

Reports indicate the governor's people and legislative leaders may understand that, and have been in serious talks to resolve the problem without taking a torch to local taxpayers. If they have to go into special session to do it -- election or no -- then so be it. Whatever it takes.

When Speaker of the House Glenn Richardson earlier this year put forth an ill-advised and little-debated plan to have the state take over most taxation in Georgia -- thank the heavens that didn't happen -- a sweeping coalition of groups rose up in unison to oppose it.

Just a warning to the folks at the capitol: Those groups still have each other's e-mail addresses.

Comments (7) Add comment
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patriciathomas
42
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patriciathomas 08/10/08 - 08:09 am
0
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If taxes ease up a little at

If taxes ease up a little at a time, the taxpayer can adjust. A sudden move never works. I think the state should cut needless social programs by $428 million and see if that helps the budget.

DeborahElliott2
4
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DeborahElliott2 08/10/08 - 09:24 am
0
0
Either that or face people

Either that or face people doing the Boston Tea Party right here in this state!

pointstoponder
161
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pointstoponder 08/10/08 - 09:51 am
0
0
Here is good. I can't afford

Here is good. I can't afford to drive to Boston.

LaTwon
1
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LaTwon 08/10/08 - 11:08 am
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cetralization

cetralization destroys.......... taxes for behavior control destroys.
redistribution destroys. why does the federal govt get the lion's share of our taxes? local govt should get the most, then state, then feds. why do we pay 1% of our sales tax to pay for marta?
if atlanta wants a train let them pay for it. why do we subsidize daniel field? let those that use it pay for it with fees.

452
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Lakeside95 08/10/08 - 04:36 pm
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Just ask Jerry Brigham and

Just ask Jerry Brigham and Joe Bowles think the way to reduce the 'waste' in government is to reduce the money given to the Sheriff's Department and the Fire Department. They had quite a lot to say about the 'waste' at the Richmond County Republican meeting on Saturday.

jack
10
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jack 08/10/08 - 04:49 pm
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I thought Ga reported a

I thought Ga reported a surplus not too long ago. Where did it go?

pointstoponder
161
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pointstoponder 08/10/08 - 08:37 pm
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Lakeside, while law

Lakeside, while law enforcement and fire are two primary services we should expect from local government, to pretend that either is a model of efficiency is foolish. There is waste in both organizations that could provide either more deputies on the street, tax relief, or better pay for the deputies.

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